February 14th 2008 Webscape – February 14th 2008 Kate Russell gives us her latest selection of the best sites on the World Wide Web
It seems like every man and his dog wants a website these days, but making something that looks good and functions well isn’t as easy as it sounds. I can’t promise your dog will be able to use our first site this week, but for any humans out there who need help designing a website, Weebly is a must. The first thing that strikes me about this site is the simple and accessible design, which is good news as this ethos will be applied to your site too, making it a much more pleasurable surf. Registration is painless and speedy, then you jump straight in and name your website. This brings you to the build interface. Check out the tabs across the top first to familiarise yourself with the tasks ahead, and notice the sub-menus that appear on the left as you switch between tabs. Everything about this site is drag and drop, so it’s very simple to use and the number of options is startling. Begin with an overall design. Just hover your mouse over the thumbnails to see a preview. The pictures included there are placeholders which you can change for your own images, but make sure you have a picture with the right dimensions if you want it displayed correctly. You can now begin to add new elements, including text, pictures and even video by linking to a YouTube or Google video file. Clicking the link to More will also let you add elements like Google maps and RSS feeds. Use the Pages tab to add additional pages and even a blog. Once you’re happy, click to publish and you’re presented with a URL where people can view your site. There’s even a link to create your own domain name, but bear in mind you’ll have to pay for that if you want it.
Mozy mozy.com Computers have become an essential part of our daily lives; the information we keep on them is valuable, sentimental and often vital. So what happens if you lose your computer in a fire or theft? As scary as it is to think about, disasters do happen and you have two choices in life: bury your head in the sand and hope it doesn’t happen to you, or back up, buddy. The safest option is to store your data off-site, and Mozy offers that very service, all wrapped in a user-friendly interface. Mozy does provide a paid-for service for both home and professional users, and if you have a lot to back up it’s worth considering the fairly inexpensive monthly fee. But you can store up to 2gig completely free if you’re a home user. Click the MozyHome tab at the top to find the free sign up button. There’s a few personal details to fill in, and the final registration page offers you more free space for referrals, which is a nice touch. After confirming your email address you get a link to download the backup software. Next step, install and then go through the configuration wizard, which will bring you to a page where you can select the backup sets you want – such as email & contacts, financial information and photos and images, even your browser bookmarks. If you’re on the free account the capacity bar at the bottom will tell you when you’re over the limit. The next dialogue tests the speed of your connection and then you’re told how long the back up will take to complete. Be warned it will likely be a long time for the first backup, but will be a lot quicker after that. Finally, make your choice about when you want the backup to start then click Finish.
Windows Directory Statistics
Another download now, and a useful hard disk analyser that speaks volumes with visuals. It’s called Windows Directory Statistics. After download and installation you’re presented with a fairly basic interface. Specify the drives or folders you want to analyse and then go make a cup of tea or something while the software does its thing. They say pictures can speak a thousand words, and I guess in the case of the visual map you get here, they’d be right about that. Knowing the size of a folder and all its sub folders can be really useful when it comes to spring cleaning your data to make a bit more room. It’s a function that even the latest versions of Windows doesn’t perform. –
Packet Garden packetgarden.com
And we finish with another visual treat. This is definitely one curiosity that will appeal to everyone from tecnhophobes to outright geeks – want to grow a virtual planet based on your internet traffic? It’s called Packet Garden, and you’ll pick it up on the website of the same name. Another quick download and you need to follow the readme instructions depending on what platform you’re installing it on. You need to install the WinPcap software before you install Packet Garden, then just launch the program and you’re ready to go. When you launch it you need to click Start Packet Capture to begin recording your travels, then just go ahead and surf as normal. When you’ve been active a while pop back into the packet garden and click to grow a garden from your traffic. The longer you leave it the busier the planet, and you can adjust the sensitivity under Configure, but bear in mind the lower the number the longer your garden will take to display. There is even the option to fly through your world by clicking on Visit World, but personally I have found this to be a bit buggy and it keeps crashing the software – sort it out packet garden.